Motorola Mobility faces Android phones, tablets recall in Germany

Apple won another patent victory against Google in Germany. Now the technology giant has options: have all Motorola's Android devices banned, destroy infringing devices, or have them recalled.

A Munich court said yesterday that Google-owned Motorola Mobility must recall every Android smartphone and tablet it sold in Germany which infringe an Apple-owned patent, reports The Guardian.

Screen Shot 2012-09-14 at 11.15.21
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx. Credit: CNET

Apple won a victory yesterday in the German court over a 'rubber-banding' patent that was key to the Cupertino, CA.-based technology giant's billion-dollar victory against Samsung last month in a U.S. court.

The EU Patent No. EP2126678 and U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381, described as a "list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display" patent, effectively allows a page on a browser or application to bounce back once a user has scrolled to the bottom or the top of the screen. 

But Apple can now, depending on how much cash it wants to splurge out, decide on a number of options: it can either post a €25 million ($32m) bond to enforce a ban which could be overturned through lengthy appeals, add €10 million ($13m) on top of that to force Motorola to destroy infringing devices, or add another €10 million to force Motorola Mobility to recall all infringing devices.

Talk about being between a rock, a hard place, and a cliff edge.

Motorola's parent company Google is expected to appeal the decision while contesting the validity of the European patent with the European Patent Office. In the meantime, the decision appears to fall on Apple on how much it's willing to spend on the case.

As FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller notes:

Since [Motorola Mobility] doesn't have much market share in Germany, the immediate business impact of these decisions is asymmetrical to the impact of any ruling against Apple or Microsoft in this country. But the outcome of those cases shows that Android has far bigger patent infringement problems than any piece of computer software has ever had in the history of the industry, and this has many of Google's hardware partners profoundly concerned.

While the ban sounds minimalistic on Motorola Mobility's part, destroying the devices would prove painful for the smartphone maker. A recall, however, would also be damaging to the Google-owned division and likely incur heavy costs and cause embarrassment for the firm.

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